A journey to healing disease from the inside, applying energetic and spiritual practices, forgiveness and mindfulness in lieu of western medications
In 2009, I was suffering from frequent migraines which I have had on and off for years. Suddenly, it was happening very regularly. I was so blocked from my emotions that my body was forced to start barking at me (at high decibels). My back hurt so much that I felt like my ribs were closing in on me and I could not breathe. My chiropractor told me that in Chinese medicine those types of symptoms symbolize sadness. He suggested a therapist, and it was there that I discovered my sadness was not only from grieving the loss of both of my parents, but it was about all the unhealed wounds from my past that I had stockpiled.
We all have profound events that have impacted our lives and, if we were never taught the right coping mechanisms, these events remain stored in our subconscious and continue to reappear in the form of “dis-ease” until we decide to deal with them.
After dedicating six months to self-care during a sabbatical from my job as a pharmacy professor, I definitely felt relief, but no cure. It was just the tip of the iceberg — my work had only begun. It was not until the summer of 2012, after giving emergency birth to my son five weeks early, that I experienced long-term healing – a major shift and spiritual awakening. After that, there was no turning back. I literally woke up one day and said: I want more out of life. Even though I had a great life on the surface – a wonderful husband and son, a beautiful home, and a stable job, I knew it could be better – much better. My head was abuzz with all the things I had experienced during my sabbatical when my body felt great – thoughts of community, connection, nature, movement, sun, solitude, full expression, and impact. I wanted that to be my whole life, not just for six months and not just a drive-by.
I started a journey of self-discovery that year and had some life-changing experiences during a particular class on medical intuition at the Open Center in NYC. Medical intuition is a term coined by the author and spiritual teacher Caroline Myss. She has demonstrated through her work that much illness is derived from emotional, spiritual (energy) and psychological blockages. This means, for example, that heart disease can result from a broken heart, not just high cholesterol. This was very believable to me despite the fact that I was previously trained in western medicine, where we were told that the source of disease is genetics, eating habits, and all things outside our control. A light came one for me and I became a true believer through my own firsthand experience. This was the perfect synthesis of eastern and western philosophies. In the course of this class, we were shown how to “read” one another. Each class I took, each time with different partners, produced the same result, the same message — I had anger toward my parents, particularly my father. Initially this was confusing for me, because outwardly I missed and grieved my parents. With each class, I began to accept the possibility that maybe there were some suppressed emotions within me, deeply buried, slowly eating away at my being. I realized later that I was very good at numbing my emotions.
I got so good at numbing my emotions that I had no clue some even existed.
As it turns out, this is not so uncommon.
I am a very determined person. Once I learned this, I was off and running. I wanted very much to forgive, but feelings of resentment continued to arise. I did not know how to authentically forgive. I was so desperate, I even Googled “how do you authentically forgive?” Don’t laugh; it worked. Ask and you shall receive. I knew that all I had to do was ask and the answer would come to me, I simply needed to be willing to allow myself to receive the awareness. The answer did come, and it was subtle – so subtle that I almost missed it. Eventually, something clicked, because one morning I woke up to an email with an offer to purchase Deepak Chopra’s set of 66 meditations. Clearly, I was being sent a message – the answer was to meditate.
I started meditating daily. One day, as I was listening to a meditation through my iPad, I was instructed to recall a conversation that was painful for me, and to imagine that I was floating on a cloud as a far-away balloon appeared and started to come closer and closer with the picture of that person on it. I saw my father. I was told to relive that conversation, but this time to express how it made me feel, and to say what I would I say today to him.
I went back to 1994. I had just received my driver’s license and I was out for a joyride with two of my best friends. A glorious summer ride quickly turned into a day that would change my life forever. I lost control of the car and hit a tree as two cars slammed into mine. I remember looking up in the mirror and just seeing blood. We were rushed to the emergency room. Fortunately, I was fine; I had a concussion and needed some stitches. One friend on the passenger side had over 50 stitches around her eye and my other friend in the back seat went unscathed.
Friends and family surrounded us in the emergency room, but all I remember was my father. His first words to me were “How fast were you going?” On the way to the hospital, my brother also got into a car accident and totaled his car (he was unhurt, thankfully). We lost all of our transportation on that day, and for years to come my father would remind me “how I cut off his legs.” His reaction was so painful to me that this is what emerged during my meditation all those years later. Driving was the one thing my overprotective father was uncharacteristically cool about. It was the one thing we bonded over, the one way I got to spend time alone with him during my lessons, and then it was gone in a flash. And his harsh words in the hospital sliced through me.
From that time forward, I lived every day with back and neck pain that got increasingly worse with no relief in sight. In 2006 it got so bad that I was willing to pay for a daily massage. This was also the year my dad died and the year I developed shingles. I was experiencing the pain triggered by emotion, yet I was still unaware of the connections. I even had a herniated disk in 2010 that was so debilitating it left me without feeling in my thumb. I was a physical mess.
Years after his death, I received a response from my father during meditation that showed up in the form of a breakthrough, a knowing. I did not understand it at the time, but my father had been terrified. He loved me so much and seeing me hurt, almost losing me, was devastating to him. He did not know how to express himself so it came out as anger (the brother of fear). I had carried that story in my muscle mass. I had carried that pain. I never realized my father had been carrying his own. I immediately knew I could forgive him. Since the day of that meditation, I no longer suffer from any neck pain!
All of the pain and anger that had been stored in my neck was released through forgiveness —I had healed myself.
From that moment, it became crystal clear to me how important self-expression is to our vitality. In fact, I believe the lack of self-expression is the number-one cause of suffering, and the most common way this shows up is through illness. I believed this so deeply that I left my prestigious job of 10 years as a professor of pharmacy to spread my message of self-expression and created the “Make Your World Bigger” movement. This program teaches seekers who are looking to live their best lives (every one of you reading this) how to become self-aware, self-accepting, and self-expressive – to live the BIG life you are meant to live.
I have dedicated these last two years to really understanding the emotional and spiritual aspects of suffering. I was already well trained in the physical causes of disease as a pharmacist and diabetes educator. Over all my years in practice, I knew that there had to be more to why people get sick. I had treated patients with horrible diets that survived repetitive heart attacks. And then there was my father, one of the healthiest men I knew, who died at 63, falling asleep on a bus and never waking up. Later on in meditation, I connected with my father once again and learned that he did, in fact, die of a broken heart; he passed less than a year after my mother. This confirmed my belief even more, and I started to study the chakra system.
There are seven power centers in your body, called chakras. The state of each chakra reflects the health of a particular area of your body. It also reflects your psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Every thought and experience you’ve ever had in your life gets filtered through these chakra databases. Each event is recorded in your cells.
In other words, your biography becomes your biology. When chakra energy is blocked or misdirected, emotional and physical illness can arise.*
Since I started my journey of self- discovery, I have begun to learn how to express myself in both big and small ways, from asking directly for what I really want to taking giant leaps of faith like leaving my stable job to pursue my dreams of being a global teacher and writer.
As a beneficial side effect of self-expression, I effortlessly lost 20 pounds. I say effortlessly, because the changes I made were by choice and not through denial and restriction. I valued myself more and automatically made better choices such as incorporating more plant-based meals into my diet and minimizing my consumption of processed foods. I continued exercising, but with excitement instead of struggle, by moving in a way I liked (dancing/bike-riding/ practicing yoga). Now I take a reduced dose of my medication for hypothyroidism, represented energetically by a blocked throat chakra, which represents communication and expression. Coincidence? I think not.
There are several reference books that can enlighten you on the emotional and energetic (spiritual) causes of nearly any dis-ease that you may experience, such as Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss and You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. There is more to disease than just the physical aspects of what we have been trained to believe.
What do you do with this information?
Learning to protect your energy by setting personal boundaries and applying some visual techniques that I use on myself and with my clients, have both proven to be very effective.
We are energetic beings and our emotions, and even past-life experiences, can play a large role in our physical expression. That’s why I believe that energy medicine is a necessary component for any type of healing to fully take place. Just using medications is only putting a Band-Aid on the problem. Don’t get me wrong, as a pharmacist, I am not against medications – they are essential and life-saving for certain situations, but I do believe that they are overused and the cause of so many unnecessary side effects.
If what I am sharing speaks to you, then seek health-care practitioners who are aligned with these concepts and collaboration. Holistic practice incorporates energy work, inner work, and eating REAL food as part of your healing. The body-mind-spirit connection will help you to feel more vibrant and will reveal itself on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level beyond what you could have ever imagined – now that’s living BIG! Put the ease back into your life by connecting to your mindful self, your best self!
* Definition of the chakra system taken from Caroline Myss. To explore your seven power centers and see how they reflect what’s happening in your body and in your life, visit www.myss.com/library/chakras/.